Sunday, October 14, 2012

Anatomy of an occasional chair (part 1)....

I found a little occasional chair on the footpath a week or so ago.
In its found state it was pretty ugly, dusty and smelly but I've been looking for a chair like this for ages so I wasn't going to pass it up. This one has great bones. The bottom strapping needs a bit of tightening but the springs are still really good and the padding only needs a bit of plumping with new materials.
After lugging around the corner (....Joe drove off in disgust and laughed as I struggled through the front gate) it sat on my front verandah for a week, dodging a bit of stormy weather we've just encountered. But this position allowed me to contemplate it each time I walked out the front door and ensured that the research required was top of mind. If I'd stored the chair somewhere else guaranteed the whole thing would have been forgotten! (My usual trick and then I chuck it!)
I spent the week researching re-upholstery via YouTube. What a fabulous resource. I found this great series of DIY upholstery ( which has taught me the fundamentals of pulling the chair apart and removing the old fabric, staples and tacks. Essentially, it's a reverse process. What goes on last, comes off first. No brainer!
So in the sunshine yesterday afternoon, I propped my project on a makeshift trestle table and set about removing the 'unwanteds'.
I've kept the fabric cover just in case I need to make a template or two.
By late afternoon I was in good shape to strip the old polish from the external wooden arms. I actually studied french polishing many years ago, in fact before I even met Joe! So I dug the trusty stripper and steel wool out of the shed, reclaimed a tin can, donned my rubber gloves and set to with an old brush. The polish came off so easily. I'm sure its because this chair looks like it's spent most of its recent times outside...the spider webs, twigs and seed pods also attested to that fact!
I let the stripper chemicals diffuse in the night air and this morning I got stuck into vacuuming what dust I could get out of the pared back padding, wadding and strapping.
Whilst delving through my old french polishing box I also found a jar of linseed oil and pure turps. I love this combination of minerals as a wood revival, particularly after stripping. Secretly, I also love the smell! With clean cotton rag in rubber gloved hand, I smeared this concoction over the wooden arms. They've come up a treat and the oak is looking rather Danish.
And that's where I've left my chair for the moment. I'm still debating whether I'll pursue actual french polish or waxing. Decisions, decisions....but at least I have a week or so before my fabric arrives. (to be continued). 


  1. Saw that sitting on your porch....can't wait to see what you do with it.

  2. You have inspired me. I bought a padded footstool / pouf / ottoman / whatever you like to call it with the intention of reupholstering it and it has sat doing nothing for a year now, still has the $10 price tag on it. So now I'm off to youtube to see just how to get started. Thanks!!!!!